NFL Can't ... or Won't Stop Private Workouts

Howard Balzer

While Cardinals’ offensive players, led by quarterback Kyler Murray, have flown under the radar with their workouts earlier this week in Dallas, Texas, others have flaunted them in the wake of the NFLPA suggesting private workouts should be avoided.

The Tom Brady-led workouts in the Tampa area are a classic example where the new Buccaneers quarterback echoed the words of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who famously said the “only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also published photos of workouts.

Those close to the over 120,000 people that have lost their lives to COVID-19 might argue with that sentiment, but be that is it may, all the NFL and NFLPA can do is hope everyone makes smart decisions.

Following a virtual meeting between league owners Thursday, NFL medical director Allen Sills had this to say when asked about Brady and the Bucs: 

“This is, again, a place where the NFLPA and the NFL are in the same exact place, which is we want whatever makes the safest possible environment for all of our constituents, whether they be players, coaches, trainers, medical staff, anyone in that team environment.

“So we’re going to work very hard together to educate everyone about the steps that we feel collectively are going to be most effective at reducing risk for everyone. Again, this is all about risk reduction to try to mitigate risk. We know that we can’t eliminate risk.”

Sills also said, without naming any players: 

“We will work very much hand in hand with the Players' Association because this, again, this is where everyone in that team environment is going to share the same risk. But they’ll also share the same responsibility to each other, which means that everyone is going to be dependent on each other member of that team environment for doing the very best that they can to implement these measures and to keep themselves and their household members as safe as possible throughout the course of the season.”

On Thursday the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and enshrinement ceremony were postponed until 2021. The NFL is still targeting July 28 for the start of training camp, although there remains a strong possibility that the preseason schedule could be reduced to two games to provide a period of time after reporting for players to better prepare for padded practices and games and assess how virus protocols that are put in place are working.

“I think right now that we and the Players Association are both encouraging players and all team personnel — not just players, but coaches and everyone — to follow the best public health guidelines that we have so we’re in the same place there,” Sills said. “Obviously, the club personnel that we do have working at our club facilities are covered under the club protocols that we have in place there right now. So, for example, a number of coaches are back working in the facilities. But there are no players there, other than those who are continuing to receive medical treatment and rehab.”

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